The Weekend Sun Emerging Artist Award

Rob McGregor with some of the emerging artists at one of the recent workshops.

An exciting and new feature at this year’s Bay of Plenty Garden & Art Festival is The Weekend Sun Emerging Artist award.

Earlier in the year, festival director Marc Anderson put the call out for any interested artists to apply.

Thirteen of the 14 emerging artists selected as finalists spent time with artist Rob McGregor over two development workshops held at Tauranga Racecourse. These are Sharn Lambert, Anna Price, Sandy Clarke, Trish Coates, Marilyn Muirhead, Vicki Fraser, Sally Ward, Carmen Hutcheson, Vanessa Ryder, Lisa Stowell, Deidre Callaghan, Myra Nelson and  Diana Spence.

“They are already good artists, but it just gives us another opportunity to offer a platform so people can gain confidence,” says Marc. “And give them a chance to express themselves creatively and learn from professionals like Rob.”

“It was really awesome to be involved,” says Anna, who creates large resin beachscapes. “Just to get to go along and listen to Rob talk about his experiences and tell stories about his life as an artist was really cool.

“It was also cool to sit amongst the other artists that were there as well, have a chat, be social with them and be around other likeminded people who are on the same journey wanting to be creative.”

Anna says that she found herself very absorbed in what all the artists were working during the workshop days together, and that there was a feeling of mutual support between them.

“We got to walk around and look at each other’s pieces. Rob would offer advice and then we’d talk about them. It was amazing to be in that experience and to really feed off each other,” says Anna.

“Everyone is so different,” says Rob.

“So really it’s just a matter of me offering an opinion which they can take or leave. I make suggestions and give general principles that some will benefit from.

“To me the most important thing is to paint something that you are not only familiar with but have strong feeling about. You either really like it or hate it, but you have an emotional connection with it.

“I think people should work in a series. Once you’ve done one, start the next. Each one develops a bit differently and you become familiar with it,” says Rob.

“It was amazing,” says Vanessa.

“I’ve never actually had an art lesson before. It was eye opening to look at everybody else’s work. Rob was great. He explained things in a way that I could understand and he had really helpful tips.”

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be involved in the festival and it’s great that they are including emerging artists that maybe otherwise wouldn’t get into a garden and give them some experience and talk about what’s involved in the process,” says Anna.

Imogen Munns, a youth emerging artist, enjoyed four art sessions with Jacqui van den Berg who along with Rob have been festival artists.

One of the artists will be awarded ‘The Weekend Sun’s Emerging Artist’ award at the Garden & Art Festival, and all of the finalists will have work exhibited at Bloom in the Bay.

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